Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report spawns predictable cliches

Mary Meeker’s latest 197-slide Internet Trends report is not bullshit. While some of the stats on the slides are questionable, overall it’s a pretty interesting, international grab-bag of facts. My issue is with what comes next — media and analyst cliché predictions based on those facts.

In the tech world, predictions are predictable. There’s a cliché for each stage of technology adoption. Read my chart from the bottom up to follow the adoption curve.

clichesI’ll illustrate these with slides from Meeker’s talk.

1 New categories emerging: no coherent predictions

When you read a tech story about a new product like self-driving cars or Slack, the message is “just keep an eye on this.” No one makes predictions about stuff this new, it’s too early.

Trends 1

2 Early adoption: overblown predictions

Once things like drones catch on, we’re hard-wired to see them as the start of a trend. Amara’s law states that we overestimate the speed of early adoption.

trends 2

3 Mass adoption: disruptive predictions

Once a technology gets going, we can’t resist predicting how it will disrupt a whole industry. Like AirBnB, for example.

trends 3

4 Majority adoption: “the end of x” type predictions

Once a technology reaches half of us, the pundits declare the “end of” something (digital cameras or TV viewing, for example). They’re right, but it takes a lot longer than they think.

trends 4

5 Slowing growth: predictions about acquisitions

Growth can’t last for ever. As profits drop, analysts speculate about competition and acquisitions.

trends 5

6 Saturation: predictions about the next big thing

Tech analysts and journalists get bored talking about what’s already here, and feel they must talk about what might arrive next.

trends 6

The internet is already full of regurgitations and analyses of Meeker’s deck. Can you spot the clichés in each one?

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